By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A top ranking U.S. Department of Education official and members of a statewide campaign to increase early learning opportunities for children swapped stories and strategies on Thursday at a Philadelphia City Hall summit.READ MORE: Philadelphia Seniors Treated To Night Out, Musical At Walnut Street Theatre
The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, Libby Doggett, says there is empirical evidence that the early learning years – for children 3 and 4 (years old) – are so very important.
“You have education research,” she says, “economic research, developmental psychology research, neuro-science research, medical research.”
Stakeholders at the summit, like Eva Gladstein of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, say they’re pushing local access to higher quality Pre-K programs.
“How to make sure we can adequately fund universal access for pre-kindergarten,” Gladstein says, “without damaging all of the resources for (grades) K through 12.”
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell says one option is a ballot question changing the City Charter to form a commission to look into how to finance and deliver “universal Pre-K.”READ MORE: Police Searching For Gunmen After Shots Fired Near Chester High School Football Game
“Everybody is committed to making zero-three a major issue,” she says.
Pennsylvania applied for but missed out on a $20-million federal grant to expand access to Pre-K.
Supporters are calling on Governor-elect Tom Wolf and the legislature to make it a top priority.
In New York, the state legislature decided to use state funds to expand funding for Pre-K, instead of a local city tax increase for full-day pre-kindergarten programs.
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